Category Archives: Arab-Israeli Conflict

What If…?

What If…?

What if “right-wing” Israel is right about why the peace process has failed?

What if negotiations repeatedly failed because the Palestinians used every occasion to demand concessions from Israel and broke them off rather than reciprocate?

What if, when Palestinians say “the Occupation,” they mean all Israel?

Does it make sense to use language like, “the whole world thinks the occupation is the problem”? and wring one’s hands over the (imagined) loss of viability of the (imagined) two-state solution?

And then attack us?

What if the reason that the peace process has failed for so long is because Westerners (including Israel) think positive-sum, and Palestinian Arabs play hard zero-sum?

They want it all, and so do their jihadi brethren the world over – infidels must be dhimmi, starting with Israel.

What if Israel is fighting a common enemy with you liberals and progressives, Caliphaters who want to subject or convert infidels the world over?

Why would you side with your enemy against us?

What if your jihadis are watching and studying the deeds of our jihadis, to turn them against you?

Does it make sense for you to cheer them on when they’re hitting us, and then wonder why they’ve hit you?

Does it make any sense to desire a two-state solution, passionately, and, when one side acts in bad faith, you take his side against the side that did try, did sacrifice, and lost big in the failed deal(s)?

Zionist propaganda, you say? Perhaps. And you’ll find no lack of Jews and Israelis eager to confirm your disdain. But given that most of your information replicates Palestinian propaganda, that should hardly disqualify it as a source.

What if it’s not just a “right-wing” point of view as you’re told, but a realistic one, unhappily accepted by liberals and progressives who refuse to be seduced by unrealistic hopes, and who actually cherish and want to protect progressive values, endangered by misplaced trust in enemies of those values?

Do you help yourself by dismissing our war narrative as useless and adopting the Palestinian one? Or should you at least run through a “what if ‘right wing’ Jews are right” scenario.

Imagine all the people… getting it badly wrong….

Nah, emperor’s new clothes scenarios are just kid’s stories, not real.

And if you decline the invitation to even do that “what if…”, are you not becoming a proleptic dhimmi who rejects speech – even thought – that might upset Triumphalist Muslims?

Own-Goal Cognition, anyone?

“And all the blame goes to…”: Sisyphus, Kerry and the Failure of “Peace” Negotiations

Two articles and two blogposts have just appeared that tackle the failed peace negotiations conducted by John Kerry during the second Obama Administration. One, by a participant (with a long history of participation in these efforts going back to 1993), “Inside the Black Box of Israeli-Palestinian Talks” by Michael Herzog, in American Interest, and the other, a strong critique of the first piece, by Raphael Ahren, the diplomatic correspondent of the Times of Israel, and two extensive blogposts, by Yaacov Lozowick, and David Gerstman at Legal Insurrection that criticize the widespread lack of interest of the mainstream media on this revealing text, in part, they suspect, because it doesn’t indict Bibi.

Like most diplomatic issues written by negotiators, one has to read between the lines at what is not said. The issues here are crucial, since much of the logic that this information undermines, lies at the heart of Kerry’s final maneuvers to condemn the settlements as the roadblock to peace, and the vast international consensus – diplomatic and journalistic – that stand behind him.

For Herzog, there’s enough blame to go around:

All parties made mistakes, each exacerbating the others’ and contributing to a negative dynamic.

For Ahrens, Herzog’s piece is a “politely devastating critique” that “skewers Kerry for dooming the peace talks.”

What strikes me in reading Herzog is how much – despite his explicit conclusions – he provides an abundance of clear evidence for the fact that (as Lozowick also notes) the real reason the negotiations failed is because the Palestinians  never had any intention of negotiating. So blaming Kerry (or Bibi) for “dooming the peace talks,” is something like blaming a hospital emergency team for blowing the resuscitation of a mannequin.

If there’s blame to apportion here it’s a) the Palestinians for never negotiating in good faith, and b) the Americans, especially Kerry, for blaming Israel for killing the mannequin,  and c) the Israelis like Herzog for never catching on including (apparently) still now.

In reviewing this material, let me lay out what I think were the negotiating strategies of the sides for the last 25 years, a perspective repeatedly borne out by events, including the information in Herzog’s article:

(NB: I’m a medievalist, trained to piece together fragments of evidence into a larger picture. When the CIA launched after the WWII they tapped medievalists (including one of my professor, Joseph Strayer, specifically because of this training. So maybe I see more because I know less. Certainly, in these matters, I am far from familiar with the details.)

The Americans believed (to a man/woman?) that if only they could get the Palestinians and Israelis to agree on a deal that gave the Palestinians a state on the other side of the “’67 borders,” that would bring peace and solve a whole bunch of problems in the Middle East – linkage – including saving Israel from deciding between democratic or apartheid. They formally adopted a cognitively egocentric notion that the Palestinians really wanted a state, but needed to get the best possible deal to “sell it” to their own people. The way to get it was to pressure the Israelis to make concessions that would bring the Israelis into (what they imagined was) “the zone of possible agreement [between Israelis and Palestinians]” (Indyk), and then go to the Palestinians with a great deal (from the US point of view), and thereby achieve the holy grail of Nobel Peace Prizes, the deal that really is so obvious, you should be able to solve it with an email.

The American position represents a dogmatic extension of Oslo Logic after it blew up in Israel’s face in 2000 (Y2K Mind). It takes as a given that the Palestinians will accept a deal +/- on the “1967 borders,” but they can’t concede too much or they’ll lose face with their people. Applying that “reading” to the negotiations since 2000 (Bush/Condoleezza, Obama/Clinton/Kerry) has a) guaranteed US and Israeli failure, b) guaranteed Palestinian and Jihadi success. Once committed to the paradigm and its expectations, the US was incapable of realizing they were being played.

The Israelis wanted to appease the Americans, and I suspect most of the actual negotiators (Herzog/Livni) agree with the American position that a) peace is urgently needed, and b) believe peace is within their grasp, like in 20o0… “so close.” (Certainly Herzog shows no awareness of what’s available at PalWatch or MEMRI on Palestinian attitudes off the negotiating record.) Because they do want a deal soon for fear of the demographic timebomb, the Israelis are ready to make many of concessions, both short-term (slowdown of settlement activity, release of prisoners) and long-term (division of Jerusalem).

But at the same time they know that they have limits to their concessions, not only on some key issues like refugee return and how Jerusalem is divide (already a pocketed concession), but also the damage to their position from making unreciprocated concessions, increasing the odds that this “peace deal” too will blow up in the face of the conceding side. Thus the Israelis fight over every detail to protect themselves from likely attacks from an eventual Palestinian state, while still making concessions to move the process along, to get, as even Indyk admitted they had, into the zone of possible agreement. Herzog expresses his confidence in the Palestinian’s commitment to finding a solution, despite all the counter-evidence, with a credulous humanitarian credo:

But whoever knows the issues in-depth realizes how crucial they are to both sides’ future. And those of us who have spent years at the negotiating table know how arduous and excruciating a journey is required of both sides if they are to find a sustainable balance encompassing all core issues (italics mine).

That “whoever” who “knows” does not include the current crop of Palestinian “leaders” and their negotiators. On the contrary they’re not at all interested in finding a sustainable balance. No arduous journeys for them.

Bibi’s Strategy:

  • Take it seriously.
  • Fight every detail to get the best acceptable deal,
  • Show good faith, accede wherever possible to American demands
  • Ask for reciprocity.
  • Put really good people to work on it, and follow the details closely.
  • Hope that, if/when things fail, they won’t get blamed.

The Palestinians are nowhere near the American’s “zone of possibility.” As long as they can pretend to the cognitive egocentrics on the other side that they are near, ready, desirous of a deal, however, negotiators will play along pretending to accept the notion of a positive-sum, give and take, deal. Indeed they will indignantly rebuke any challenge to their sincerity.

Erekat argued that this was natural given in his view Abbas’ moderate positions: “He doesn’t need to convince Abbas. Abbas accepts the two-state solution [sic], recognizes Israel [sic] and does not build settlements [alas! He should be building settlements for Palestinian Refugees stuck in camps].”

But they know that their job is to make the process as difficult as possible, to give the impression they’ll make concessions without making any real concessions (eg their phony recognition of Israel). They want above all not to reach an agreement, without being blamed for the failure of negotiations. If, in the process, they can use the Americans to get unreciprocated concessions, great. The US wants them so badly to participate that the Palestinians can make just “sitting down to negotiate” a major concession on their part to match say, Israelis releasing prisoners. If they get blamed, go nuts:

The thing that really drove [Abbas] nuts,” Ashrawi relates, “is that they blamed him for the talks’ collapse. In his view, it’s all the Israelis’ — and the Americans’ — fault.”

The Palestinians are in no hurry because the suffering of their people, as long as Israel can be blamed, is a bargaining chip (like a non-funny remake of Blazing Saddles, “don’t no one come near or I’ll shoot this nigger”). They feel no need to make any actual concessions to Israel (that they wouldn’t carry through on anyway) because they feel time is on their side and they can wait. They know that Israel won’t kick the Palestinians out and can’t digest them; that the situation is a timebomb of ethnic warfare which will destroy everyone. (That’s why some Palestinians call for nuking the whole area.) And, anyway, the negotiator’s job is not to create a Palestinian state (pace “international opinion”), but to destroy an Israeli state. If they deviate from that task, if they make a deal with the Israelis, they’d lose face, be accused of betraying the sacred Arab-Muslim cause, and have tea with Sadat.

So they’re willing to “play along” with negotiations as long as the US pressures Israel. Abbas claims his side had “already exhausted its ability to be flexible in past years and therefore that the main onus was not on him.” If the US can force deeply wounding concessions (Green Line including East Jerusalem) on Israel, then maybe they can appease the Jihadis whom they honor in Arabic, by assuring them this is a major step in the “Two Phase Plan” for the destruction of Israel. If they can’t, they can’t risk the humiliation of agreeing to accept a state of free infidels in Dar al Islam, so they’ll walk away from the table and brag to their Jihadis about how they said “No,” to the mighty Americans.

Abbas’ strategy:

  • insist on settlements as main problem and let Western cognitive egocentrists think you mean the Green Line not the shore line;
  • avoid being involved in negotiations as long as possible;
  • refuse any deal, avoid even responding to any deal;
  • negotiate on other tracks (Hamas, International Community), for the time the talks “fail” (i.e., the moment pressure is put on them);
  • blame Israeli settlements for the failure and get outraged when criticized.

European Schizoid Dissonance: The Calm of Appeasement

At the Balfour Declaration centenary conference convened by JCPA Tuesday, February 28, there was a particularly interesting juxtaposition during the first panel between remarks by Colonel Richard Kemp and Professor Julius Schoeps.

(NB: the videos of the talks will only be up next week. I will link when possible and make any amendments to this post that a second hearing might impose. Thanks to Richard Kemp for sending me a copy of his remarks; for his further thoughts see “Balfour Declaration, November 2016)

In his talk, “Israel as a Strategic Asset to Britain”, Richard Kemp drew a striking contrast between two European attitudes towards Israel. On the one hand, there are those who see her as a remarkably successful loyal ally, crucial not only to Montgomery in 1940s, but even more today in the 21st century. On the other, there are those who repeatedly sacrifice Israel’s interests and side against her. His illustrative example concerns Italian Admiral Giampaolo Di Paolo, the Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, who:

In 2009… visited Israel to study IDF tactics to apply to NATO operations in Afghanistan. He was particularly interested in Israeli tactics for fighting terror in civilian-populated areas. This visit came just weeks after the publication of the infamous Goldstone Report – which alleged that Israel had committed war crimes by deliberately targeting civilians in Gaza.

The contrast was striking: within weeks of the European Parliament endorsing the report, the European Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee was visiting Israel, for the third time in four years, to study ethical methods for dealing with terrorist insurgencies without causing undue harm to civilians.

Apparently the Europeans find scolding Israel nearly irresistible, even though they know their criticism is not only untrue… but, it’s the opposite. Israel behaves better than even other Western armies; a fortiori than the jihadis they fight, whose cannibalistic strategies create civilian casualties among their own people.

Let’s call it (European) schizoid dissonance: holding two diametrically and significantly contradictory notions in one’s empirical and moral discourse at the same time. On the one hand, the (European) cultural elite – journalists, critics, public intellectuals, researchers, NGOs –conduct a conversation in which despising Israel holds an important place, in which they have flipped the symbol and insist on seeing an Israeli Goliath bullying a hapless Palestinian David. On the other hand, the military, the security people, the grown ups in charge, ask the Israelis to teach them how to limit casualties when the enemy uses civilians as shields and how to enhance their security. And that schizoid dissonance seems to hold more or less for all European countries.

No sooner had Kemp finished his remarks than the next speaker, Prof. Julius H. Schoeps, the Director of the Moses Mendelssohn Centre of European Jewish Studies at Potsdam University, made remarks that seemed to illustrate the contradictions Kemp had just highlighted. After asserting German support for Israel and good will towards the Zionist dream, he concluded by sternly warning Israel against impeding the peace process with their settlements.

On the “Clash of Civilizations” in the Era of Trump

[NB: I wrote this last November, but forgot to post it. Better late than never, and given the reaction to Trump’s Executive Order about admitting people from seven Muslim-majority nations as feeding global Jihad, it seems still highly relevant.]

Pundits are worried that Donald Trump and team – Bannon, Flynn, Pompeo – are “bringing back” the clash of civilizations (back to 2001). This regression, we are told, is a dangerous move that will play right into the hands of the Jihadis. Notes Fawaz Gerges:

What Trump and his followers do not get is that their inflammatory rhetoric plays into the hands of ISIS and Al Qaeda, who labor hard to convince skeptical Muslims that the West is waging a war against Islam.

Indeed this sentiment inspired both Bush’s famous “Islam is a religion of peace” speech within a week of 9-11, and Obama’s aversion to any association of Islam with violence. “ISIS is not Islamic.” It goes along with hand phrases like, “We can’t go to war with 1.6 billion Muslims.”

Much has been written of late about the dangers of exaggerating things. Democrats/ Liberals/ Progressives exaggerate the flaws of their “right-wing” opponents, abusing terms like racism and xenophobia till it ceases to move people. Republicans/ Conservatives/ Realists paint with a broad brush, tarring all Islam with the stain of Jihadi extremism.

And the danger here involves not merely the outsiders who cease to respond to the exaggerated rhetoric intended to stampede them against those designated as “beyond the pale.” It also carries the danger of convincing true believers that the sky really is falling. In this sense, Trump may have won in part because his foes had so abused terms like racist and Islamophobe that some voters even warmed to him because he so openly mocked their politically correct strictures. And in the wake of his stunning victory (unforeseen in part because the mainstream of news and commentary so believed their own pack rhetoric), we now have “progressives” alarmed, even panicked, at the prospect of such a terrible man inhabiting the White House, a man so beyond the pale, that normalizing him would be Orwellian “newspeak.”

And yet the same folks who consider “normalizing Trump” an act of newspeak, would not dream of identifying the claim “Islam is a religion of peace,” as a variant on a central theme of newspeak: War means peace, peace means war. In fact Western infidels have formulated the problem of Islamic violence in a way that guarantees it won’t be understood, much less effectively addressed. Right now, certainly since the turn of the millennium, outside dealings with violent Muslims only made things worse

However well-intentioned, or defensive we infidels might be, whatever we do, we make it worse: if we appease, we invite further demands; if we push back, we elicit further hostility. And while we fail miserably to recognize danger and menace coming from without we consume our energies with internecine warfare between “left” and “right”: our tough cops assault our nice cops for being self-destructive fools, while our nice cops assault tough cops for their obscene and atrocious belligerence: each side correctly predicting the failure of the others’ strategies.

Meantime their tough cop (Jihadis) terrify, and their nice cops (Summoners) show us the path to proleptic dhimmitude, to submission. And the first and most important submission of the dhimmi is not to blaspheme, not to criticize, not to shame a Muslim publicly. Accusations of Islamophobia currently play the role of making substantive criticism of currents of Muslim religiosity impossible.

Thus what began as respectful, politically-correct concerns about not offending others, when applied to Muslims, has become so charged with anxiety (and fear) that anyone who addressed the more problematic aspects of Muslims response to the modern world, gets marginalized. As a result, serious discussion about “radical” and “moderate” Islam, and their relationships to each other and infidels, cannot take place, even though they’re key to responding to the challenge of global Jihad.

Reuel Mark Gerecht offers a fine example of the rhetoric that has made discussion so difficult. Even as he faults Obama for failing to address the issue at all, he then turns on the “anti-Islam crowd:

However, I do have a really big problem when certain individuals attempt to paint Islam, in all its 1400-plus years of glorious complexity, as a deranged civilization and faith, whose denizens and practitioners are somehow uniquely capable of violence because they are hard-wired to do so, via the Koran, the holy law, and whatever else the anti-Islam crowd thinks makes Muslims tick. This is just historically atrocious. It is often obscene.”

“Anti-Islam crowd thinks… deranged faith… Koran makes Muslims hard-wired for violence tick… just historically atrocious… often obscene.”

I’ve long learned to beware the term “just” used dismissively. It has a knack for pulling the rug out of a discussion: the anti-Islam crowd’s view of Islam and Muslims is just awful and tasteless, don’t listen to them. And yet, when one subjects Islam, Muslims, to historical scrutiny, it turns out that on just this subject of war and violence, Islam has the most expansive armory of sacred war phrases, which Mahdi warlords and their mujehaddin have used them, generation after generation, Mujadded after Mujadded, to wage war on Allah’s enemies. Any impartial assessment of the historical record on religious war and violence – thoughts and deeds – would fairly rank Islam at the top of the list in its intensity and recurrence. “Islam is a religion of peace,” as historical generalizations go, is about as misleading as one can possibly get to newspeak.

The Qur’an, the sayings, and the law in Islam all give a great deal of attention to non-believers – kufar, those who cover the truth – and much of it is distinctly hostile. War on the infidel qua unsubjected infidel, plays a role in Muslim thinking that has no parallel in any religion in recorded history known to me. For some Muslims (how many?) Jihad a religious vocation: it is a way of proving one’s fervor for Allah. Indeed it would seem fair to venture that historically and currently, Muslims have a lot of trouble dealing with the “infidel other.”

What attitudes and range of behavioral norms govern Muslim interaction with non-believers, those living within and outside of Dar al Islam? How to deal with dissenters and apostates, those whose voices challenge and undermine the faith’s hegemony? Just how important is it to Muslim identity that Islam’s destiny is Muslim rule over all other, false, religions? Where there was Dar al Harb (realm of war), there shall be Dar al Islam (submission). How many Muslims teach and how many learn that the meaning of Muhammad’s urging wala wa bara means “love your fellow Muslims and hate the infidels”?

How painful is the condition of Muslim believers in a modern world that subjects everything, Muhammad and the Qur’an included, into the same critical matrix. Fair treatment for Islam would be very embarrassing. it has thrown Moses and Jesus and their respective documents? And in what complex ways do Muslims deal with that pain? When the simple, arousing, absorbing, deadly appeal of jihadi triumphalism reaches young Muslims passionate about their faith, who can resist, how many are they, and what do they do to shut down the venue for violence.

These are all legitimate observations from the perspective of a free West, indeed one might even argue, indispensable observations. And yet, when weighed in the balance of Gerecht’s judgment, these historically-based observations, come out on the side of “atrocious and obscene.” It’s not that this is all there is to Islam, but that in its history, cases of hostility to religious “others” has led to “deranged [and destructive] episodes, repeatedly giving birth to “practitioners… uniquely capable of violence because they [we]re hard-wired to do so, via the Koran, the holy law,” the hadith, the histories, the tales of glory, the teaching of the global Caliphate. This is historically accurate. It’s Verités de la Palice. If it is “obscene,” one should ask: In whose eyes the offense?

The ability to disagree, to listen, to self-criticize, to empathize with other perspectives, has played a key role in success of civil polities. To talk about real issues, relevant issues, and try and understand them as best we can, is almost too self evident an activity to need defending. And yet, now, if one discusses such matters, rumblings of Islamophobia, of racism, of paranoia, of obscene and atrocious pronouncements, of a racist lack of empathy for the marginalized, for the not-privileged. This dynamic has led to a radical misunderstanding of the violent Muslim forces at play in these matters, initially concerning Israel, now a global phenomenon, come home to roost in your campuses, and even your halls of power.

Take a particularly critical topic: the emergence of sanctified suicide terror, the most potent weapon of global jihad in the 21st century. Historically speaking, one of the critical moments for apocalyptic movements, is when they go public. History is littered with the corpses of slain messiahs, including the most famous one of all. Most authorities throttle even peaceful millennial enthusiasm, a fortiori, millennial hostility. So when an apocalyptic death cult that believes they must destroy the world to save it appears, societies mobilize in opposition.

(Today, the vast majority of those killed by suicide bombing are Muslims.)

And yet, quite to the contrary, the first suicide-terror attacks were greeted with such unanimity on the Arab/Muslim street, that even the most staid theologians in Cairo, yielded to the pressure and legitimized both suicide and attacking civilians. The meme gave birth to a movement; the revenge poetry of pink mist. Certainly this is a tragedy for Muslims, who today, by far, suffer the most from this apocalyptic weapon unleashed upon their world.

The behavior of the West, however, was still more unusual. Rather than protesting this moral monstrosity, this paranoid hatred for a demonized “other” for whom one has no empathy – the Nazi formula – which was now reappearing in Islam, which threatened planetary peace itself. Western progressives, reacting to lethal reports of a “Jenin massacre,” cheered the Palestinian martyrs on, some wore mock belts in solidarity. In the history of civilizational-suicidal gestures, that ranks high, although the last 16 years have been very high in such incidents.

In the history of the millennial movement of global jihad, that moment in the early aughts (Spring, 2002), when infidels cheered on the most ominous new development in the war on themselves, will stand out as a major turning point. In their eagerness to believe in the IDF as Nazi, they, like the Arab theologians, threw out basic principles of humanity. It was a stunning loss of empathy for people who, only two generations earlier, had a special claim on European empathy.

And for whom did the progressives who shouted “We are Hamas!” in European capitals have empathy? For the Palestinian “people,” for their cause. The people whose culture had produced Hamas’ martyrdom operations, in which the apocalyptic meme of “pink mist” arose, designating that magic moment after explosion when your own blood mixes with the blood of your victims, and your soul ascends to heaven and your victims’ descend to hell. A case study of paranoid violence against an utterly demonized “other,” “martyrs” with no trace of empathy. So instead of identifying the phenomenon of martyrdom operation as a massive social problem, and more specifically, an tragic failure in even the most elementary forms of empathy, it cheered on the death cult as resistance, and protested when the autonomous infidel, under attack, defended.

Of course if Gerges and others were concerned with not radicalizing the Muslim world, they would have spoken out long ago against the own-goal lethal journalism that Western journalists and “progressive activists” have engaged in over the last decade and a half, depicting the Israelis as (Muslim) child-killers and the Western militaries as killers of hundreds of thousands of Muslims – when indeed and alas, Muslims kill many more Muslims than Westerners do.

An Earlier Earthquake in the Jewish World: Response to Eva Illouz

Haaretz passed on publishing an earlier draft of this response to a piece it had published. #Shocker

It was subsequently published in a shortened form at The Algemeiner.

An Earlier Earthquake in the Jewish World: Response to Eva Illouz

Richard Landes

Eva Illouz wrote a dramatic New Year’s piece for Ha-aretz, in which she accuses fellow Jews who support Trump of falling prey to messianic fantasies and “betraying Jews, Jewish history and humanity,” and claiming for the “liberal Jews” like herself, the sole mantle of “authentic opposition to anti-Semitism.” Invoking Freud’s definition of the uncanny (das Unheimliche), or the anguishing sense that behind the familiar lies something profoundly foreign and menacing, she claims that “the [Trump-riddled] world at the beginning of 2017 elicits the same feeling of the uncanny: It is the same old world we knew, yet we sense it has become inhabited by foreign ghosts, hybrid creatures never seen before.”

This striking image of uncanny recognition among the familiar, so brilliantly explored in the Body Snatchers, reminded me of my own experience of the uncanny, back in 2000, at a time where, dissident that I was, I found my home on the left. Then, suddenly, I realized that fellow Jews – good, smart, imaginative Jews, people I loved to talk with, argue with, struggle with – had suddenly become deaf to the cries of their own people, faced with the unleashing of a terrifying hatred. When you told them that every criticism of Israel that they leveled was true many times over among our enemies, they indignantly declared, “Don’t compare Israel with the Arabs.” Instead, they rushed to announce “as a Jew,” that they abhorred the abominations committed by Israel.

Somehow, for these uncanny Jews, their moral urgency about Israeli crimes went hand in hand with a corresponding reluctance to discuss Palestinian behavior. “Don’t change the subject.” “What choice do they have?” “Don’t demonize the Palestinian people.” “One person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.” “We’re worse terrorists.”

And yet, within this matrix of alternating moral indifference to Palestinians (and other Jihadis), and hysteria about Israelis, arose a reckless cognitive disorientation, uncannily sustained by alter-juifs who felt compelled to denounce their own people. Palestinian hostility, unreported, unexamined, unrecognized for the horrendous, genocidal hatreds it harbored, could be inserted into a post-colonial narrative in which Israel was the colonial, racist, Goliath and the Palestinians the indigenous victims, the plucky Davids or, alternatively, the victims of Israel-Nazi genocide.

Thus genocidal Jihadis could masquerade in the global public sphere as heroic “resistance fighters,” struggling for “human rights.” Protesters of Israeli brutality proudly proclaimed their identification with genocidal Jihadi groups.

We are Hamas London 2009

And if these lethal narratives of Israelis and images of Palestinian suffering inflamed the West, driving even good Jews to distraction, then how much the more did it inflame Muslims the world over. They confirmed again and again, the global Jihadi narrative: Jews were killing innocent Muslims with impunity! The final battle against those who wish to destroy Islam – Israel and the West – has begun. Progressive leftist, alter-juifs, and Jihadis shared a common messianic enemy: destroy Israel (and American hegemony) for world peace!

For-World-Peace-Israel-Must-Be-Destroyed

The uncanny at the turn of the millennium, then, went far beyond the progressive Jews and their “friends.” For, alas, this exercise in self-laceration, of prophetic rebuke of one’s own people under attack, took place in the cyberspace-enhanced global public sphere. There malevolent minds, enthralled at any news of Jews (a fortiori sovereign Jews) behaving badly, eagerly devoured the uncanny “self-”accusations of “righteous Jews.” After 2000, comparisons of Israel with the Nazis went mainstream on the progressive Left. In the new replacement narrative, the Al Durah icon “replaced, erased,” that of the boy in the Warsaw Ghetto, just as Gaza replaced that ghetto in the compassionate heart of haters of Zion. The Israeli Goliath – already an uncanny image –morphed into the Israeli Nazi: the secular Antichrist. This marriage of pre-modern sadism and post-modern masochism, this Antichrist Israel, was sanctified at Durban in 2001, where the cult of Al Durah presided as patron saint.

Demonstration during Durban. Al Durah effigy in bottom center.

Demonstration during Durban. Al Durah effigy in bottom center.

Four days later, 9-11 brought a shower of Schadenfreude, from professed lovers of freedom.

Of course, the fiercest foes of Jewish freedom, from the supersessionists, to the most delirious Judeophobes, embraced this replacement narrative with glee. And, insofar as they thought themselves progressive, this glee worked much to their own damage and to the damage of a progressive and peaceful world. When, in 2002, drunk on a wave of lethal journalism about the IDF “massacre” at Jenin, demonstrators wore mock suicide belts to cheer on the Palestinian “resistance,” they actually helped glorify a terrible new apocalyptic weapon, blight of the new century, soon to be turned on their own people and other Muslims. Tony Judt’s response to the wave of outrage at reports of Israel’s “massacre” at Jenin, spoke for many a progressive Jew: in the pages of the NYRB, he complained that Israel’s misbehavior puts innocent, good, Jews, like himself in danger! In his estimation, it was time for Israel, relic of nationalist and imperialist currents of the past, to retire from history.

The uncanny horror first happened for me in 2000 – witnessing the reaction of Jewish progressives to the sight of their own people – the only sovereign Jews in the world – fighting off a suicidally vicious Palestinian onslaught and joining together with movements that celebrated those hatreds. Rather than acknowledge the failure of Israel’s good faith efforts at a positive-sum peace, when faced with deeply nurtured hatred, and their own disastrous advice to ignore belligerent signs in the PA and go on with the “peace process,” “liberals” preferred turning against the “right-wingers” whom Israelis elected to clean up the disaster that they themselves had wrought with the Oslo “peace” process.

hartford_courant

When Eva Illouz deplores today’s “right wing” pro-Trumpers as people for whom “Nationalism has replaced historical memory as the nexus of Jewish institutions and Jewish identity,” she might think about the several times that Jewish internationalism has done just that; these are “foreign ghosts, hybrid creatures” we have, alas, “seen before.” When she claims that “only liberal Jews in Israel and in the democratic world can claim to be the authentic opponents of anti-Semitism,” she might consider the decades of terrifying, uncanny, unrepentant behavior among those (claiming to be) liberals, behavior that has enabled and globally promoted the most poisonous of Jew-hatreds, thereby feeding global Jihad, the worst imperialist movement of our day.

If, instead of penning alarmed and divisive rants that prolong the earthquake about which she warns, she were to introspect, she might find the empathy to understand her fellow Jews who find the persistence of progressive Jews and Israelis in promoting anti-Semitic anti-Zionism in the global public sphere uncanny, something that has terrified those of us who do track anti-Semitism, over the centuries and millennia.

At the same time, she might find the self criticism to consider how those who reject the global left’s moral leadership are not deplorables, and why the decision of her fellow progressive Jews to partner with wolves in progressive clothing who grotesquely accuse Israel of genocide, has made them just as uncanny to their fellow Jews who disagree, as these critics – some now Trumpists from “anger and despair” – are unrecognizable to them.

Indeed, she might even ponder the possibility that Obama’s policies, perceived by many, including some pretty smart people, as civilizationally suicidal, might have contributed to a popular abreaction, without which a candidate like Trump could never have “taken” with the American public, including with some Jews.

Then, in that silence and opening borne of self-reflection, maybe sane, progressive, tribal, Jewish voices might arise above the din of civilizational madness that grows louder every year in this troubled dawn of the new millennium.

 

Alt-Mid to Alt-Lib: The far right’s new fascination with the Middle Ages

The Economist recently published a piece on the renewed interest in the Middle Ages. Like “fakenews” and “anti-semitism” these are issues that have been alive and well for over two decades without the WMSNM paying much attention. Now that they can be attributed to the “far-right,” they’re back in vogue as “new.” The piece is intellectually as disturbing as its claims about the “right’s” fascination with the MA: it offers a flattened MA, tailored as a refutation of the tribal emotions so common among people back then.

The far right’s new fascination with the Middle Ages

Jan 2nd 2017, 12:05 BY S.N. | CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA

UNTIL fairly recently, it was rare to find Americans who were passionate about both medieval history and contemporary politics.

Guess that makes me, who am writing a book subtitled A Medievalist’s Guide to the 21st Century, rare.

Barring the odd Christian conservative, medievalists tended to lean left: a Marxist grad student, say, mucking around in land ownership patterns to show how past inequalities gave birth to present ones,

NB: not to show how much past inequalities have been overcome, even though none of these Marxists would choose to live in the inequities of the Middle Ages.

or an environmentalist activist, perhaps, fascinated with vegetable-dyed handspun clothing.

I certainly don’t fit either “type,” despite having been accused of being “marxicisant” by Dominique Barthelemy because I thought peasants thought (demotic religiosity) and their actions, based on that thought, especially at the advent of apocalyptic dates, like 1000, was consequential.

My regret is that we have not seen more medievalists work on the rural and urban commune movement of the new millennium (11-13th centuries)… lay textual communities, laboratories of civil society, adumbrations of democracies to come.

But when Americans invoked historical events in politics, they tended to be more recent—the founding of the republic; the struggle against slavery and segregation; victory over Nazi Germany.

This has changed. Since the September 11th attacks, the American far right has developed a fascination with the Middle Ages and the Renaissance—in particular, with the idea of the West as a united civilisation that was fending off a challenge from the East.

Had the “mainstream” of the public sphere, alerted by honest information professionals, developed an interest in medieval apocalyptic beliefs and “holy war,” which might have made Al Qaeda and Hamas more understandable as apocalyptic global imperialists, radicals might have been embarrassed to be associated with the folly of seeing them as “resistance warriors” just like us.

We are Hamas London 2009

Anti-Israel Rally, London, January 2009

An Earlier Earthquake in the Jewish World: Response to Eva Illouz

Eva Illouz wrote a dramatic New Year’s piece for Ha-aretz, in which she accuses fellow Jews who support Trump of falling prey to messianic fantasies and “betraying Jews, Jewish history and humanity,” and claiming for the “liberal Jews” like herself, the sole mantle of “authentic opposition to anti-Semitism.” Invoking Freud’s definition of the uncanny (das Unheimliche), or the anguishing sense that behind the familiar lies something profoundly foreign and menacing, she claims that “the [Trump-riddled] world at the beginning of 2017 elicits the same feeling of the uncanny: It is the same old world we knew, yet we sense it has become inhabited by foreign ghosts, hybrid creatures never seen before.”

An earthquake in the Jewish world

A feeling of the uncanny accompanies the start of the new year, as Jews witness their religious and political leaders aligning themselves with anti-Semites and anti-democrats | Opinion

By Eva Illouz | Jan. 1, 2017/Rewritten by Richard Landes,  Jan 1, 2003

Over the last three years (2000-2003), like many others, I have followed the news with an undefinable mixture of dismay, fascination and terror. When reality evades our grasp, we may reach for familiar concepts to cope with its elusiveness.

In 1919 Sigmund Freud wrote a short essay, called “The Uncanny” (“Das Unheimliche,” in German), in which he attempted to understand a particular kind of anxiety and fear elicited by art or literature (for example, the tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann) or events (such as recurring coincidences), the uncanny. Unheimlich is the opposite of Heimlich, the familiar, domestic and homey.

Freud’s stroke of genius consisted in understanding that psychically “unheimlich” is not the opposite of “heimlich,” but rather a sub-category of it: It is the strange that occurs within the home, as when a child looks at the face of his mother and suddenly senses that behind her face hides a ghost or a witch (countless horror movies tap into the feeling of the uncanny, turning grandparents, parents or children into possessed creatures). The uncanny is thus the very special form of terror we feel when we look at someone or something that is familiar, yet fail to recognize it. It is the anxiety that derives from actually seeing a foreign creature in the well-known body and face.

The world at the beginning of 2003 elicits the same feeling of the uncanny: It is the same old world we knew, yet we sense it has become inhabited by foreign ghosts, hybrid creatures never seen before.

The “moral leaders of the democratic world, the global progressive left,” uphold undemocratic values reminiscent of the world that the United States crushed only 70 years ago (the name of Goebbels been frequently evoked in the context of Charles Enderlin, with regard to the vicious war propaganda he has disseminated, promoting global Jihad, not rebuked but emulated and admired by his colleagues). This man is far closer in war propaganda journalism, to the Palestinian journalists who concoct footage to spur their people to hatred, than to any “modern” journalist who takes his professional commitments seriously. The Western interference in Israeli affairs, executed with the active collaboration of academia and the Mainstream news media – the apple of the left’s progressive eye, of the presumed guardians of “truth” of “bearing honest witness,and bringing social justicerevealing to all forces that undermine Western civil polities from within its epicenter. Two specters now haunt the world, and seem to have taken possession of its soul: the past specter of the mad messianic wars of the Middle Ages and the future one, of an auto-induced newspeak.

But perhaps most unheimlich of all are the new alliances that have materialized in the Jewish world. The new century/millennium brought, an alliance of a kind never seen before, between Jewish progressive groups, a large percentage of secular Jews (in both the U.S. and Israel), and Jihadi associates and supporters, the same who, during and after the wild protests against Israel, cheered mischievously at Palestinian and Arab Hitler admirers, whose own genocidal meme, “drive the Jews into the sea!” we hear loud and clear on our campuses, with the “social justice” cry, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.

Susan Handelman to Executive Director on MLA Boycotting Israel

A friend and colleague, and member of the MLA (Modern Language Association) for decades, just received an email  letter sent to all  25,000 members of the Association  from the Executive Director of the MLA informing them about the three proposed resolutions  that will be discussed and voted on at the annual MLA conference meeting in January, all of which concern the Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians.”

Dear Colleague,

If you are attending the 2017 MLA Annual Convention

 in Philadelphia, I write to remind you that the Delegate Assembly meeting will be held on Saturday, 7 January 2017, starting at 11:00 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom Salon GH at the Philadelphia Marriott. The meeting is open to all current MLA members.

The Delegate Assembly Organizing Committee (DAOC) establishes the agenda for the assembly meeting each year. The DAOC has placed three regular resolutions, proposed by members, on the agenda for consideration at the 2017 assembly meeting.

  • One resolution calls on the MLA to refrain from endorsing a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
  • One resolution calls on the MLA to endorse Palestinian civil society’s call for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. 
  • One resolution calls on the MLA to condemn attacks on academic freedom in Palestinian universities.

These three resolutions are now posted online with supporting materials from the proposers. Because the first two resolutions appear to conflict with each other, they will be discussed by the assembly in an order to be determined by lot.

We also expect one or more emergency resolutions to be proposed by members. An emergency resolution that has been circulated for signatures calls on the MLA to endorse the statement from the American Association of University Professors on “higher education after the 2016 election.”

The DAOC and the Executive Council have provided three key opportunities at the convention for members to discuss the issues surrounding the resolutions or the resolutions themselves:

1. On Thursday, 5 January, from 5:15 to 7:00 p.m., there will be a Town Hall Meeting on the question, Should the MLA endorse a boycott of Israeli academic institutions?  Members not attending the convention will have the opportunity to participate online and to listen to a live stream of the discussion.

2. On Friday, 6 January, from 10:15 to 11:30 a.m., there is an Open Hearing on Resolutions, where members and delegates may discuss the resolutions on the Delegate Assembly’s agenda and any emergency resolutions that are submitted. No votes will be taken at this session. 

3. On Saturday, 7 January, at 11:00 a.m., the Delegate Assembly meeting begins; votes will be taken on the resolutions that are on the assembly’s agenda.

Any resolution approved by the Delegate Assembly would need to be reviewed by the Executive Council and forwarded to the full membership for commenting and a vote. 

The council and DAOC are committed to providing opportunities for thoughtful and respectful discussion at the convention, and I hope that you will be able to participate. I look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia.

Rosemary G. Feal
Executive Director

Professor Handelman responded as follows:

Dear Ms Feal,
Thank you for all your hard work on behalf of the Modern Language Association.

I have been a member of MLA since 1977 and have, and have been a literature professor since 1979.

I received this message from you below about Delegate Assembly resolutions regarding the Israel- Palestinian conflict.

Aside from the complexities of that situation , I don’t need to tell you about what’s happening in Aleppo, or the million people in Mosul who are trapped in the fighting between ISIS and Iraqi forces. I read your message and I asked myself: “THIS is what the MLA is discussing and making resolutions about?”

I am sorry to say that I am ashamed and embarrassed as an MLA member.

Below is a three minute youtube video of an Israeli-Arab newscaster making a plea in English about the genocide in Syria .

Would that the MLA could be as eloquent and an honest and deeply moral as she is here, and fulfill its aspirations to be a serious ethical and cultural voice, instead of diminishing and reducing itself to discussions of boycotting other academics, and further lose credibility.

Please take two minutes to watch it.
Perhaps you can induce the MLA to make some kind of public stand about this, instead of wasting its time on inappropriate ideological combat.

See this article about Lucy Aharish and the few minutes she took to say these words in English on her news broadcast.

With best wishes for a successful convention,

Yours truly,
Prof. Susan Handelman

I was recently reminded of #IDD (Israel Derangement Disorder), when the NYT posted a wave of articles about Trump’s ambassadorial choice for Israel, even as civilians were slaughtered in Aleppo.

In this case, we find the MLA, in its BDS-induced obsession with Israel’s unacceptable violations of Palestinian “civil and academic rights”, while all around her exists a political environment where the power players – including the Palestinians – grant no rights or freedoms to their own people, much less to their minorities, and who readily treat their own people’s lives with contempt. And even as that happens a staggering scale before our eyes, in Aleppo, in Mosul, in Yemen, in Nigeria, in Sudan, progressives like the PoMoPoCos at the MLA keep their eye on that oh-so gratifying world of narratives about sovereign Jews behaving badly. Indeed, so strong is their obsession, that they endanger their 501C3 status just to pursue completely tangential issues.

Those whom the gods would destroy they first drive mad. And so it goes with the social justice warriors of the 21st century.

Progressive and Caliphater Millennialism: Interview in Mishpacha Magazine

Machla Abramowitz interviewed me in Mischpacha magazine. It was initially done as coverage of a talk I gave in Montreal on BDS and Cogwar (definitions posted here), but mutated into a much more complex discussion of messianism and the progressive left. The (slightly) longer version I post below may clarify some of the obscurities in my published responses.

For anyone interested in a more extensive discussion of the unfortunate convergence of progressive left and jihadi millennialism, see “Progressive and Jihadi Movements in Action: A Study in Interacting Millennial Currents in the Early 3rd Millennium (2000-2020).”

The End Game

Millennialism: where progressivism and jihad meet.

By Machla Abramovitz

Mishpacha Magazine, 29 Cheshvan, 5777.

They believe in the coming of a messianic epoch, one in which humanity will unite and peace and justice will reign. Their enemies are conservatives and traditionalists, or those who fail to comprehend the arc of history and humanity’s final destiny.

No, they’re not an apocalyptic cult hatching a plot in a South American jungle hideout, but modern progressives who subscribe to the idea of “millennialism.”

Richard Landes, a former professor of Medieval Studies at Boston University, and currently the senior fellow with the Center of International Communication at Bar Ilan University, is one of their leading critics. For decades, Landes has been studying the phenomenon of millennialism, or the belief that a messianic era of justice, peace and abundance is coming soon, often preceded by a massive disruptive (apocalyptic) event. Now, with the election of Donald J. Trump and the protests that have exploded nationwide, the world is witness to many expressions of millennialism, and, as is common, to disappointed expectations. The arc of history that bends towards justice has lurched into reverse.

The Low Countries at their lowest: Dutch Lethal Own-goal Journalism

I only now have become aware (thanks to Twitter) of Hans Moll‘s book (2011) on Holland’s most presitigious paper (only in Dutch alas) and Bruce Bawer’s review of it for Frontpage in English. Here I reproduce Bawer’s with comments.

The Low Countries at their lowest

A Dutch journalist exposes the systematic left-wing slant of his country’s most respected newspaper

Bruce Bawer, Frontpage, December 1, 2011

NRC Handelsblad is arguably the most respected newspaper in the Netherlands. Hans Moll was for many an editor there. He is not an editor there any more. In his new book, Verzwijgen als of het gedrunkt staat, of Hoe de nuance verdween: NRC Handelsblad over Israël, de Islam en het integratiedebat (How the Nuance Vanished: NRC Handelsblad on Israel, Islam, and the Integration Debate), Moll provides a very valuable document of our time: an insider look at the kind of day-to-day reportorial and editorial decision-making, in matters big and small, that leads a newspaper to convey a less than objective view of the world.

Not just “less than objective” – PoMo-PoCo’s insist that’s that’s not possible anyway – but a self-defeating view of the world, utterly disorienting for those who are the target of Jihadi Caliphaters. The important point here is the link between the way the media portray “reality” – or, in their terms, bear witness to their time – in the conflict between Israel and her neighbors, and the way the portray Islam, both in the Middle East and at home. a

In other words, disoriented about Israel’s conflict has a direct link to disorientated about Muslim (im)migrants in the democracies these journalist allegedly inform. Mistaking the players in one place, means mistaking them at home, where one can less afford being wrong about an enemy. For an excellent discussion of how the Netherlands went from a paragon of democracy to a besieged nation in the course of the aughts (’00s) read Abigail Esman Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (2010). Bruce Bawer has at least two books dealing with this issue: While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within (2006) and Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom (2009).

Moll’s accounts of his professional experiences do not necessarily apply only to his own former employer. Like many other “newspapers of record” across Europe and in the U.S., NRC Handelsblad leans to the left, and the stories Moll tells about his newspaper provide insight into the mentality of journalists and editors at elite dailies ranging from The New York Times to The Guardian to Le Monde.

In the wake of the media debacle of the 2016 elections, one former NYT editor, Michael Cieply, offered some thoughts on how “narrative driven” much of their coverage (not published by the NYT). In a sense the media has long been a vehicle for redemptive action, and in its role as critic, it plays a crucial role in making democracy work. But now, we have journalists as a pack, seized with a consensus that held: a) Israelis do terrible things which we cover in intense detail; and b) Muslims rarely do terrible things, which we dramatically undercover.

Spencer Pack to ConnColl Faculty on Harassing Jewish Faculty

Spencer Pack, who invited me to speak at ConnColl about the Pessin Case, has written to the faculty about their President, Katherine Bergeron’s response to claims of harassment of Jewish members of the community. He has sent me the note and given me permission to post it.

Reflections on the new Connecticut College Tradition of Harassing Jewish Members of the Community

For the third semester in a row now, Jewish members of the Connecticut College community have been harassed by other members of the community. On February 4, 2016, I wrote on this listserv that “in my opinion, this harassment of Jews on campus in the name of fighting for social justice should end, immediately”.  Partly in response to this posting, President Katherine Bergeron wrote in a March 28, 2016 email to the members of the Connecticut College Community that she had “been troubled to receive a number of emails and calls from alumni and parents about recent allegations of anti-Semitism on our campus”.  She then baldly assured us that she found “the charges entirely unfounded…”.

I find this response pathetic.

Either I was completely clued out and totally ignorant of what was happening on campus; or President Bergeron was. Unfortunately, the events of the past semester help demonstrate who was correct on this issue.

In my opinion, the posting of the mock eviction notices throughout the dorms at the end of the last semester by the “Connecticut Students in Solidarity with Palestine” is clearly a continuation of the new Connecticut College tradition begun Spring 2015, of harassing Jewish professors and students in the name of fighting for social justice. Containing lies and half-truths at best, these posters were not meant for discussion or debate.  They were not put up in public venues such as the student union, the library, or academic buildings. No; they were posted only in the dorms, and at the very end of the semester when students were preparing for their final exams. Thus, the goal was not reasoned discussion or education. Rather, for the second semester in a row, posters in support of the BDS movement were meant to distract Jewish students from their studies; from preparing for their final exams; to harass Jewish students.

Subsequently, someone had the excellent sense to file a bias complaint over these scores of posters put up throughout the dorms on campus – and that person is to be applauded. This bias complaint compelled the administration to follow due process and carefully investigate whether this was indeed a bias incident, as held by the college’s criteria for bias. Thereupon, some of our student activists were so incensed with this mere filing of a bias complaint, and the subsequent necessity for the administration to follow due process and investigate said complaint –  that they felt compelled to occupy offices in Fanning in protest.   Moreover, in this inanity, the occupation of first David Canton’s, and then President Bergeron’s office, these “student activists” had the support and encouragement of some of our colleagues.

Suicide Bombing, Western Disorientations and (Partial) Realizations

JP. O’Mally writes a review in the Times of Israel of Patrick Cockburn’s new book, The Age of Jihad: Islamic State and the Great War for the Middle East:

LONDON — In the closing sentence of  Patrick Cockburn gives a chilling warning to his readers.

“The demons released by this age of chaos and war in the Middle East have become an unstoppable force.”

Amidst the larger analysis, Cockburn identifies suicide terror as a key factor in making Jihadi warfare unstoppable.

While the Middle East has been far from stable in the 100 years since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Cockburn argues that the territory has now entered into an unprecedented phase: civil wars across the region where Sunni fundamentalist jihadis play a leading role.

“What people often miss about [Sunni] jihadism is that if you have a suicide bomber it allows you to organize with great military precision a very powerful weapon,” says Cockburn. “That’s one of the reasons why IS (Islamic State) dominate the opposition in Syria and Iraq — because they are all lead by suicide bombers. They are fighting people who have air power and sophisticated equipment. But suicide bombing is the lethal precision that allows them to break through.

Cockburn, like many who now acknowledge the danger to the West of this apocalyptic weapon, lays much of the responsibility at the feet of the West, led by Bush, for the impact of their invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, for our misunderstanding and wrong-headed meddling in situations we don’t understand, interventions that worsened matters in the Arab world so badly, that by the “Arab Spring,” the blow to the political system that should have brought on democracy, instead led to the collapse of many, if not all Arab political structures in the face of this ferocious Jihad.

Lethal, Own-Goal Journalism creates Caliphater BDS: Definitions

The following is a set of definitions I will be using in a talk I’m giving on Sunday. They are, I think, critical terms in understanding what has happened in the 21st century, and why we’re losing a war of the minds with triumphalist imperialist zealots. I will post the talk after I deliver it.

Definitions for Talk (* = my terms)

Journalism

Lethal Narrative (Nidra Poller): a story designed to create hatred and a desire for revenge, like accusing someone of deliberately harming innocents. Most lethal narratives are false.

War Propaganda: False lethal narratives stand at the center of war propaganda produced by a belligerent force about their targeted enemy. A form of hate speech.

Lethal Journalism (Yossi Kuperwasser): The war correspondent’s first task is to filter out malevolent war propaganda, even on his own side. Lethal journalists, however, pass on lethal narratives of one side as news; they act as propagandists in someone else’s war.

Patriotic (tribal) war journalism: reporting “our” side’s propaganda as news. Widespread practice in early national journalism, today a major ethical challenge.

Own-goal War Journalism*: reporting your own side’s enemy’s war propaganda as news. Sinon, Laocoön and the Trojan Horse; Abu Rahmah, Enderlin and al Durah.

Religion

Triumphalism: dominion proves truth of one’s religion; to be right, “our” religion must rule. “I’m right cause I’m on top.” One God (ours), one king. Hierarchical.

Supersessionism: passive aggressive monotheist triumphalism; the conviction that one’s own value system completely replaces – erases and replaces – previous ones. Christianity supersedes Judaism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, secular progressive left, all monotheisms… but especially Judaism.

Demotic religiosity*: dignity of manual labor, egalitarian relations of autonomous moral agents; positive-sum chosenness. No king but God.

Who Shocks Us? LCE’s reaction to Muslim terror attacks

Pedro Zuquette, a former c0-blogger here at Augean Stables and one of the early contributors to Second Draft, just sent me this with the comment: Cognitive dissonance.

brussels cognitive dissonance

 

Having just had a conversation last night with a dear French friend who cringed at the “xenophobic” response to the latest round of Jihadi terror in Europe, I can appreciate the power of that dissonance:

Liberal Cognitive Egocentrists, unable to imagine an enemy who defies all their paradigm’s expectations, when faced with disconfirming evidence, shift rapidly to blaming their own “right-wing” for making things worse. It’s the reason that the “clash of civilizations” has been internalized between right and left, with the Jihadis getting off the hook, while the real problem going undiagnosed.

Pessin, Ironic Prophet: The Liberal Emperor’s New Clothes of Humanitarian Racism

This article appeared in today’s Algemeiner.

Pessin, Ironic Prophet: The Liberal Emperor’s New Clothes of Humanitarian Racism

[[In the spring of 2015, Connecticut College erupted into a bizarre frenzy of condemnation over philosophy professor Andrew Pessin’s Facebook post from and about the 2014 Israel-Hamas war, falsely (but vehemently) accusing him of racism, hate speech, dehumanization, and celebrating and inciting violence. For those unfamiliar with the Pessin Affair, see here, here, and here.]

In his now notorious Facebook post on Gaza’s rabid pit bull – the very one that caused the scandal – Andrew Pessin described the situation as one in which a rabid pit bull goes for the jugular every chance it gets, meaning that Hamas, obsessed at is it with killing Israelis, will take advantage of any occasion to do so, even if it means stepping on their own people to get at “al Yahood” (the Jews).

jihadi goliath

Cartoon by Ellen Horowitz

In the current context it means that, now that the barrier (aka: “Apartheid Wall”) makes suicide terror too difficult, Hamas fires rockets continuously and episodically at Israeli civilians. And proud of it.

Most people, having been given the “racist alert” were so shocked at the possible description of the Palestinian people as rabid pit bulls, didn’t read any more than this. But Pessin’s subsequent comments constitute the most interesting part of the post. It describes the people who call on Israel to let the rabid pit bull out of its cage (e.g., end the blockade).

He then describes two kinds of people who support that “humanitarian” discourse.

You may call for this release because you are yourself a rabid pit bull protesting your co-specimen’s detention, or because you are a well-meaning liberal hearted animal rights person. But you are demanding the same thing.

This describes perfectly and prophetically, the combination of forces that, seven months later, attacked this post and drove its composer from the “excellently inclusive” campus that ConnColl told everyone they had created and were defending by excluding Pessin. It can be understood in terms of the Emperor’s New Clothes, with the small but significant difference deriving from the fact that it’s not a joke about vanity, but an imperial procession of hatred that promotes the very poison its dupes believe they denounce.

On Anorexic Jews and Virtue Signaling: Hasia Diner and Marjorie Feld, “Historians”

Somewhat predictably, Ha-aretz has published a piece by two American Jewish scholars on why they have “left Zionism behind.” Although they claim to be historians (and in their chosen fields they may be), their argument is much more based on myths – Palestinian myths – which they have allowed to colonize their minds, and which they regurgitate without any critical thinking at all.

Apparently being critical of one’s own people is enough to quality as “critical”, even when the assertions they make have virtually no grounding in any historical reality. On the contrary, what we seem to have is a blanket, counter-empirical application of a Post-Colonial paradigm and the “virtue signalling” that lets everyone know what good, “Righteous Jews,” they are, Jews who show their virtue by taking sides against their own people.

Part of what’s so shocking about their piece, which has already solicited five indignant responses, here, herehere, here, and here, is their open revulsion at Zionism and any Jew who supports Israel. Here we find a strong echo of what Edward Alexander calls “anorexic Jews” – Jews so ashamed of their body (politic), namely Israel, that they turn against their own corporeal self.

Fisking below.

We’re American Jewish Historians. This Is Why We’ve Left Zionism Behind

Our connections to Israel flourished, faltered and finally ended even though we grew up, live and work in the heart of the American Jewish community.

Hasia Diner and Marjorie N. Feld Aug 01, 2016 11:46 AM

Hasia Diner: The Israel I once loved was a naïve delusion

When I was asked to run as a delegate on the progressive Hatikva platform to the 2010 World Zionist Congress, I encountered my personal rubicon, the line I could not cross. I was required to sign the “Jerusalem Program.” This statement of principles asked me to affirm that I believed in “the centrality of the State of Israel and Jerusalem as capital” for the Jewish people. It encouraged “Aliyah to Israel,” that is, the classic negation of the diaspora and as such the ending of Jewish life outside a homeland in Israel.

That’s impressive, and impressively insecure. It’s not like it demanded Aliyah, just encouraged it. But somehow even that is too much (how dramatic is “my own personal rubicon [sic]”?). The idea that Israel and moving there, represents somehow a negation of the diaspora is an astonishing leap of logic. It sounds a lot like more like Diner’s notion of Diaspora (see below) is a negation of Israel. This is Judith Butler talk, nicely characterized by Edward Alexander as illustrative of

…Orwell’s view that some ideas—like the virtue of Jewish powerlessness—are so stupid that only intellectuals can believe them.

QED.

Nidra Poller’s Comment on Economist al-Durah Cartoon

economist's al durah
Nidra Poller’s comments:
Presuming that Israel is blamed for the failure to conclude a peace treaty based on the everyone-knows-two-state-solution, the illustration suggests that no solution can erase the sin of “killing” Mohamed al Dura.
The father is trying to explain to his son that an Arab leader makes peace with Israel over the boy’s dead body.
 The images of the father and son are, curiously, Westernized. It took me a while to realize they were meant to be Jamal and Mohamed Al Dura. Then I recognized the wall. The halo of bullet holes.
But this “reconstructed” wall has something like three times more bullet holes than the original video. As if the blood libel has increased in fury over the past 16 years.
Conclusion: The Economist, a Western publication, defends a primitive, tribal notion of relations between groups and nations: unforgiving, unforgivable revenge.
But the illustrator did not think to reproduce the declaration scrawled in red over the heads of the al Duras in the original version: “What is taken by violence can only be taken back by violence.”
[RL: That is also the slogan behind of Arafat’s “No” to a negotiated settlement at Camp David 2000, and his launching of the Oslo Jihad in late 2000.]

Economist Al Durah Cartoon Self-Destructs

The Economist ran the following political cartoon to illustrate an article about how Palestinians feel about losing the world’s attention.

economist's al durah

Tom Gross caught it, Nidra Poller confirmed it emphatically: the two foreground figures are Muhammad al Durah and his father, Jamal. The wall behind them is the famous wall behind the two, “riddled” with bullets, allegedly shot “like rain” and “in cold blood” by the IDF.

The piece is supposed to accompany the article, which combines a sympathetic story of Palestinian distress at Realpolitik alliances such as Sissi and Bibi,

The shift has left the Palestinians, whose fate once topped the Arab agenda, feeling abandoned.

with an implied threat that, if we don’t pay attention to the plight of the Palestinians, they just might get violent.

What really stirs Arab emotions are scenes of Israelis killing Palestinians. Violence over the past year has left dozens of Israelis and more than 200 Palestinians dead. Most Palestinians, according to polls, back a return to an armed intifada (uprising). With the Arab world focused elsewhere, America in the throes of a presidential race and progress towards a two-state solution halted, they may see no other way to capture the world’s attention.

The article has no author, but appears not to be an editorial (although it would certainly fit nicely in the opinion section, written jointly by the Jerusalem and Cairo correspondents). Presumably, this kind of writing seems both professional and informative to the editorial team who published it. But when we read the cartoon against the grain, we get a remarkable comment on the inveterate lethal journalism that dominates European reporting on the Middle East.

On Abuse, Donkeys, Mass Murder, and Terrorism

In a recent article (HT: CRP), Rebecca Traister argued that rather than focus on Islam or Jihad

are truly looking to stem terrorism and mass violence of the sort that happened in Nice, they might do better to look to a different kind of litmus test: domestic violence and grievances against women.

The basic argument runs: all these mass murderers, Muslims and not, share a common pattern of abusing women, and in that matrix one will find the motivations for their deeds, and possibly the solutions for stopping them. The take-home message:

But that doesn’t make any religion — whether it’s Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel’s Islam or Robert Lewis Dear’s evangelical Christianity — the defining factor in mass shootings. Perhaps these disturbed men — and 98 percent of mass killers are men — are drawn to the patriarchal traditions upheld by some religions to make sense of or justify their anger and resentment toward women. But we might do better to examine the patterns of violence toward women themselves.

On one level, this argument is a transparent (indeed signaled at the beginning as an) attempt to take the attention away from Islam and hence foil Islamophobic rantings of right-wingers like Gingrich. On another, it’s a retooling of a familiar politically correct “feminist” argument that insists that honor-killings are merely part of a continuum with other domestic violence in which we Westerners, “we too,” are ‘just as” guilty as the cultures (largely Muslim) that practice honor-killings. Not surprisingly, some scholars think this is apologetics, and see a particular, indeed unique pattern of cultural depravity at work. How appallingly judgmental of them.

Rather than dismiss these remarks, however, I’d like to turn them from the piecemeal of individuals and statistics, and look at cultural issues. Let’s grant, for the moment, Traister’s argument that men who abuse women are more likely to a) be steeped in a testosteronic, alpha male mindset, b) find ISIS an attractive option because of its savage patriarchal attitudes, and c) in some (hopefully rare cases) engage in more rampant violence like mass murder.

Let’s then add to the mix, two further issues:

  • the fact that while women are a special object of abuse and violence, both for reasons of sexuality and jealousy, women are the object of male abuse for the same reason that many others are: they’re physically weaker. Thus, in this discussion, let’s widen the range of abused from women to weaker people, including children and animals.
  • the high correlation between people who abuse and people who have been abused, if you will, the intergenerational cycle of domestic violence. If this is true, then despite the fact that all cultures have people caught in this cycle, the nature of the culture – whether it approves or discourages this behavior – plays a significant role in both the frequency of the phenomenon, and its overall influence on life within that given culture.

It was with these thoughts about Traister’s article that I saw the following video of two Israeli policemen confiscating the terribly abused, pregnant donkey of an 11-year old Palestinian boy.

Honor Killings vs. Shame Murders: a cultural meditation

In my understanding of honor-shame culture, especially of the zero-sum kind, it matters far less what you did wrong, than what people think you did wrong. Hence, if you’re innocent and others (your honor group) think you guilty, you feel you are bad. If you’re guilty and others think you’re innocent, you’re fine.

Integrity works the opposite way: if you’re guilty and no one knows it, you may feel relieved, but you feel bad about yourself. If you’re innocent and others think you’re guilty, you may feel bad, but not that you’re bad.